A Turkish Airlines Euroleague legend added another jewel to his crown on Monday as Dimitris Diamantidis broke the competition record for career assists by dishing his 978th for the crucial points to let Panathinaikos Athens get its first playoffs victory this season in Game 3 of its series with CSKA Moscow. The former MVP and three-time Euroleague champion now adds best all-time passer to the long list of his achievements during a 10-year Euroleague career.
Entering the games with 973 assists, four shy of another Euroleague great, his countryman Theo Papaloukas, Diamantidis first tied the Euroleague record in the third quarter, finding Antonis Fotsis for a three-pointer. Diamantidis then waited for the game's most tense and climactic moments to break it. With Panathinaikos up 61-59 in the final minute of the game, Diamantidis passed through the defense to Stephane Lasme, who banked in a shot to put the Greens up by 4 points, enough for the victory. That pass also made Diamantidis the new Euroleague record-holder for career assists with 978.
Diamantidis, who will turn 34 next month, is the season-long Turkish Airlines Euroleague assists leader with 6.3 per game, which is also the best mark of his distinguished career. In his 223 Euroleague games, Diamantidis has an average of 4.39 dishes per contest. Diamantidis has led Panathinaikos to Euroleague crowns in 2007, 2009 and 2011 and was named the Final Four MVP in two of those. He was also the 2011 Euroleague MVP. Diamantidis has been named to the All-Euroleague First Team four times and won the Euroleague Best Defender award a record six times.
He is also leads the Euroleague in career steals (396), and is second all-time in performance index rating with 3,196. Diamantidis is among leaders in fouls drawn (fifth, 833), three-pointers made (eight, 300), points (13th, 2086), rebounds (14th, 841), and blocks (16th, 105).